Past Seminar

Disasters, Resilience, and the "Cure" for Catastrophe

Nov 28, 2016 Resources for the Future, 1616 P St NW, Washington, DC, 20036

About the Event

Reception to follow.

Robert Muir-Wood

As disaster losses escalate and climate change alters patterns of extreme events, increasing damages can seem inevitable and robust resilience strategies elusive. At this RFF event, Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer of Risk Management Solutions and author of The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters, explored the human causes of disaster and the new technologies and policy tools available to minimize their impact. In the book, he examines how decisions made today—about how homes are built, where people choose to live, how society prepares, and how leadership communicates warnings—determine whether a disaster can be withstood tomorrow.

In just the past year, catastrophic floods have devastated communities in Louisiana, West Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina, while severe earthquakes and extreme weather have impacted millions around the world. In addition to individual hardship, such events also put a major strain on government coffers, particularly in the United States, where the ad hoc provision of disaster relief has become increasingly common.  Drawing on instructive accounts of both tragedy and resilience, Muir-Wood argues that although natural hazards are inevitable, severe losses are not.

The discussion was followed by a question and answer session moderated by RFF expert Carolyn Kousky, whose research focuses on individual and societal responses to natural disaster risk, disaster insurance markets, and climate adaptation policy.



  • Carolyn Kousky, University Fellow, Resources for the Future; Director of Policy Research and Engagement, Wharton Risk Center, University of Pennsylvania
  • Robert Muir-Wood, Chief Research Officer, Risk Management Solutions